Hudson Site Proposal Interior


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  1. #1

    Default The Murphy Building

    Does anyone have stories or information on the Murphy Building downtown? I'm specifically interested on the architects, the date it was built, the history and why it was called the Murphy building etc.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    You talking about the Murphy Telegraph Building down on the 100 block of West Congress, and not the Hall of Justice on the other side of downtown, right? All I know is that it was completed in 1901 and is owned by 400 Monroe Associates, which also renovated, manages, and owns other smaller, historic downtown buildings like the International Center and the Marquette Building on Congress a block to the west.

  3. #3


    Of course it was also home for many years to Detroit's greatest restaurant, The London Chop House.

  4. #4

    Default Murphy Building

    Just saw this thread yesterday (a little late, I know), but the Murphy building is part of my family genealogy and part of Detroit's proud past. Simon Jones Murphy, lumber baron out of Maine, came to Detroit in 1860 after the lumber stands in Maine were depleted and set up an office with Messrs. Eddy and Avery to harvest the vast lumber resources of the lower peninsula. They purchased several hundred thousands acres of timberland over the next thirty years and set about to service the lumber needs of a growing nation.

    Simon Jones lived out the remainder of his life in Detroit (dying in 1905 at the age of 90) and was the consumate industrial-age businessman. During his lifetime he built many of early Detroit's most significant utility services: Murphy Icehouse, Murphy Power (along with Edison supplying electricity and steam-heat to the downtown commercial district), Murphy Telegraph (later Bell Telephone) and numerous others. He left a rich heritage which has largely been forgotten today, and many more achievements which continued on after his passing by his acccomplished children.

    Also, he built the first 13 story Penobscot Building (Penobscot Indians of the Penobscot River in Maine where he first started logging) which was completed a week after his death and finally completed by his son, Charles H. Murphy, in what we know today as the Penobcot block of buildings.

  5. #5


    I always thought it was named after Robocop!

    The Frank Murphy Hall of Justice was named after Frank Murphy. It is a brutalist style archicture building. It has a lot of concrete. When you go there for jury duty they show you old Sinbad movies. Sindbad movies were funny he should make more of them.

    We would have a lot of new buildings instead of old ones if we would just get light rail like Seattle did.

  6. #6


    Welcome GranCan, that's quite a family history you have there ... is this a picture of Simon Jones Murphy?

  7. #7


    I find Simon Murphy and his family in the 1870 census (along with a maid, cook, and coachman), but I only find Simon Jr. in subsequent census reports. Simon Jr. seems to have carried on the family business, though, listing himself as a lumber dealer in 1880 and 1900.

    Interesting family line. Thanks for your insight, grancan.

  8. #8

    Default Simon Jones Murphy

    Yep, that's the old guy, alright. I'll have to check the census records I have to see where he was in the later surveys. He had an office in Port Huron (where the company freighters were docked) and spent time there as well as a large retreat (which today is called Manresa) on the northwest corner of Big Beaver and Woodward. Back in those days, that was way out in the country. He also owned a fine fruit farm in California and had a very nice house there which he would visit in the winter. He also owned Palco (Pacific Lumber Company) in northern California which became the largest family-owned harvester of redwood lumber in the nation for some seventy years.

    Simon Jones Jr. did follow his dad into lumber and eventually moved to Wisconsin in 1886 to start up a new logging operation there with his brother when Michigan's forests were beginning to become depleted. Poor health later on forced him to retire to California.

  9. #9


    Here's an old photo of the Murphy Building from around 1945:

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